Philip Woodward, Senior Copywriter at Liberty Marketing, discusses how brands can effectively market to the constantly-connected millennial generation
Britain has become a nation of constantly-connected consumers. Back in October 2004, just 1.6 per cent of the UK populace owned a smartphone. Nowadays, depending on which source you believe, smartphone usage lies somewhere between 53 and 71 per cent.
Among tech-savvy millennials, who have grown up with Gameboys, PlayStations and iPods and moved on to smart devices and wearable technology, this figure is even higher.
Smartphones and tablet devices play a huge role in today’s shopping experience.
A New Relationship
A study by Accenture highlights how millennials have subverted the bond between consumers and businesses. At the turn of the century, businesses spent twice as much on technology products than regular consumers. By 2008, this spend was equal.
That means one thing: increased expertise. Millennials want to do their own research and they want to know that they’re getting the very best for their money.
The rise of mobile devices coincided with the worldwide recession to make consumers more price savvy and well informed than ever before. Deloitte says that 86 per cent of UK and German shoppers use their phones to check stock, locate stores, find discounts, research product details and compare prices.
What’s more, millennials expect value for money—modern shoppers aren’t afraid to let you know if they liked a product or not. This is seen in the rise of review sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp, which are used by 36 per cent of 25 to 34 year olds in the UK. User reviews are also a key part of brand interaction on social media platforms.
How can online brands capitalise on this review-friendly, research-obsessed mobile persona? Start conveying trust by making other reviews highly visible on a website and incentivise feedback from past customers. Furthermore, ensure your social media platforms are set up to visibly encourage—and capitalise from—user reviews.
The Power of Responsive Design
Because mobile now accounts for 52 per cent of all online shopping traffic, it’s no surprise that responsive design has been the web trend of the last few years.
Google says that consumers are 67 per cent more likely to purchase on a mobile-friendly site, while 48 per cent will feel like a company doesn’t care about them if a website doesn’t work on their smartphone. Unresponsive websites are slower, harder to navigate, and more confusing—three huge turnoffs for mobile users.
Responsive delivers results. After our team at Liberty Marketing recommended that Bristol-based van sales company Feeder Commercials should build a responsive website, its mobile bounce rate fell from 51 to 19 per cent. What’s more, Feeder’s mobile traffic grew by 585 per cent year on year after going responsive.
This shows that mobile-friendly design is also a key part of modern day SEO. Web pages that make it easy for mobile users to find key information will take priority in search results over clunky, complicated unresponsive sites.
Overcoming Mobile’s Barriers to Conversion
Mobile shoppers still face significant problems on the platform—only 36 per cent of consumers complete a sale on their phone.
Why is that? Statistics from Google suggest that security is still a major bugbear for mobile users, 46 per cent of whom don’t trust a website with their credit card online.
Design is still an issue; small screen sizes, unspecific product information and slow loading speeds all contribute to mobile apathy.
For brands to convert mobile users, a super-smooth experience is paramount—while it’s essential to use trust signals to convey quality.
Likewise, offering alternatives to payment on mobile makes sense. Introducing reserve and collect functions, or using a ‘wish list’ system, means that you can make the most of the users visiting on their phone without forcing them do to something they don’t want to.
Aside from highlighting mobile’s perceived lack of trust, these statistics also shine light on the symbiotic relationship that it has with desktop and social media. To make the most of mobile, you need to ensure you’re strong across the board.
The Importance of Social Presence
Mobile’s growing importance to the online market has contributed towards what experts call ‘always-on shopping’. Previously, sites—particularly ecommerce brands—would see significant peaks during weekdays, and slumps on Saturday and Sunday, especially in the evenings.
Yet, smartphones’ ubiquity means that they generate traffic during non-work hours—thus reducing the traditional slumps. A significant contributor towards this mobile traffic is taken from social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Research by Shareaholic showed that 31 per cent of web traffic in December 2014 was taken from the top eight social networks—up from 22 per cent 12 months previous.
Research suggests that mobile accounts for more than 60 per cent of social traffic—while two out of three Buzzfeed users visit the website from a smartphone. It goes without saying that strong social and mobile traffic are peas in a pod.
Unlike previous generations, tech-savvy millennials aren’t so worried about sharing their data with businesses, but they expect something in return. The lines between consumer and companies have been blurred. They want content that speaks to them: content that reflects their personality and their goals.
The message is clear. To generate traffic, companies need to create engaging, customer-focused content on social platforms.
It’s not about selling—brands should be joining in the conversation. That could be posting inspirational lifestyle pictures on Instagram; running exciting competitions on Facebook; facilitating discussions on Twitter or encouraging user reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor.
That’s the way to engage with a receptive, ever-growing mobile audience—the best method to become part of the lives of this sophisticated, discerning consumer class.